Shopping is namely one of the most important leisure activities in our life. Shopping spaces have become one of the most occupied public spaces and have grown to define what contemporary public life is.

The project begins with an inquiry and documentation of the spatial qualities and social meanings of shopping malls in a systematic and objective way. It is then followed by a close-up study of Vancouver’s Kingsgate Mall to understand its unique makeups, values and social relationship formed within. Overall, the project argues that the shopping mall provides a microscope for understanding the qualities desired in modern public spaces, the primary intention is to seek answers to the values that we are constantly looking for in a society and world that are constantly in flux.

joseph dahmen

Kingsgate Mall has served as a beloved community anchor over the years. It features accessibility and inclusiveness that are typically eliminated in modern public spaces, especially in shopping malls. Close observations help to capture and recreate particular moments that represent the essence of Kingsgate Mall, which contributes to breaking down the social dynamics within the mall and leads to the understanding of the unique quality and value of this place.

Recognizing the value of the place, the following proposal aims to recreate a fantasy world, a “heterotopia within a heterotopia” by extracting and enhancing the existing desirable quality of the shopping mall while conserving its social value.

The project takes place in a hypothetical future where the mall is redeveloped. It proposes to preserve the central corridor through installing glass curtain around it and structures to support its current roof while stores are being demolished around it. Despite development will eventually take over the place, the central corridor remains a protect public space. The glass curtain is installed with led screen films on the inside, which appears apparent from outside. The proposal composes four parts with respective themes based on their current functions. Using tools like colour, image, temperature, sound, sigh lines and furnitures, these re-imagined spaces hope to represent and accentuate the existing qualities of the mall.